Our first band
director and originator, was Norman P. Hazeldine. The years
he served were:
'37-'38, '38-'39, '39-'40, '40-41. Mr. Hazeldine
of Huntington and graduate of Marshall College. After a few years he
resigned and during WWII went to work at International Nickell
Corporation in Huntington, W. Va., until he retired.
For the first year the members wore white
shirts and dark skirts or trousers. Mr. Hazeldine raised money the
second year for new, made to measure uniforms. Since there was
almost no money for the band. He would get samples of band music and
we would hand make copies of it so that each person could have her
own music to take home and practice. When there were no sample
sheets for certain instruments he would "compose" a part for that
instrument and then members would make copies of his work.
Mr. Hazeldine let us learn to play each other instruments if we
could get the owner's permission. We each had to supply our own.
I bought my trombone for $15 from A. McNeer I believe who had played
in a WWI band (?) in Alderson. I paid 5$ down, he let me have the
trombone and case and then I paid the remaining debt at 50 cents per
week until it was fully mine. It was the only instrument in town
that I could find that I could afford. I knew nothing about
trombones but I soon loved it. And then, almost immediately, I began
to be asked why I had chosen a trombone because only boys were to
play trombones. The kids began to tease me but some of the adults
were serious and very cruel. I became embarrassed and then
defensive. I began to beg my father to buy a "girl's instrument" for
me. He and my older sister, teacher Elizabeth (Home Ec.), bought me
a clarinet from Montgomery Ward catalog for Christmas the 2nd year
of the band. I was freed of the teasing and shame of the trombone.
I tried and tried to like the clarinet but it squeaked a lot and was
whiney. It was unreliable and I began to hate it. I missed my
strong, booming trombone. I was also a year older and was beginning
to resent being told what girls could and couldn't do. The third
year I went back to my beloved trombone and stood up to anybody who
tried to keep me "in my girl's place."
Mr. Hazeldine encouraged us to learn to play any instrument we could
borrow for a few minutes from any other band member. I wanted to
learn to play a valve instrument but I couldn't shift from the
trombone mouthpiece to the trumpet mouth piece. However, I could
shift to the Sousaphone mouthpiece. I really couldn't carry it, it
was so large and heavy, but in its stand I learned how to play umpah,
umpah, pah,pah, pah. I also learned to play ladder runs for some of
the show-off tunes. Because I could read music and was having so
much fun Mr. Hazeldine began to supply me a trumpet sample sheet and
I would "compose " the Sousaphone umpahs to go with it. I think some
of the band members actually "faked" their parts so we could play
more pieces that we couldn't afford to buy the sheet music for.
Sometime deprivation can lead to great learning experiences. I
thought I was almost a genuine composer.
Story: Phyllis Rowe, clarinet, Mary Morgan, back to her beloved
trombone, were invited to stay for the 3 day State Band Festival
with Mary's older sister, Anna and husband Ed Fernsler who lived in
Huntington. (Band members from all over the state were invited
guests into the homes of the generous, friendly people of
Huntington. Can you imagine such a trusting, generous opening of
ones' home to high school students today? )
Mr. Hazeldine gave us a time and a place to gather for the afternoon
stadium appearance. We had to walk about 20 blocks from my sister's
home to the designated meeting place. (We didn't have the money to
use public transit.) I remember it being a very long walk. As we
were hurrying along 4th avenue toward Marshall College a man hailed
us, identified himself as a photographer from the Herald Advertiser
(?) and wanted to take our pictures as visiting band festival
participants. Of course we agreed! He directed us to a store window
and posed us looking through the glass towards the display. (see
picture) After a
couple of shots he got our names, name of our school, home town,
etc. And then we really had to rush on--we were going to be late.
Mr. Hazeldine scolded nearly all of us because we weren't the only
ones who were late--lost, mixed up, delayed. We didn't plead any
excuse almost forgetting the incident in our excitement of
participating in a STATE BAND FESTIVAL.
The next morning, there in the paper was the
picture of we two girls from the Alderson High School band. It was
the caption under the picture that had us pleading our case to
Director Hazeldine. It stated that the two band girls were window
shopping and thinking of more than the band festival. We were
outraged. We hadn't looked in a single store window. We had been
almost running we had had to walk so far and were going to be late.
Mr. Hazeldine didn't know which story to believe. That was my first
experience in learning that what you see and read in a big city
newspaper may or may not be true.
I am in awe, now, of what a daunting task
it was for this new, young teacher to be hired to teach both a
subject AND create a marching band. No instruments, no
uniforms, no music, no tradition, and almost no kids who could
"Band Class" was held on the stage.
Marching band took place on the gym floor. Sometimes the
folding chairs were up and we had to clear a path around the
chairs. Mr. Hazeldine would be teaching how to play the
trumpet, then he'd switch to trombone, then he'd help the
clarinets. We all kept practicing what he had just taught.
All those instruments at once, all of them
practicing scales, all of them screeching or making obscene
noises was the most awful noise I've ever heard in my life. I
don't know how Mr. H stood it. We loved it because we were
going to learn how to be in a band.
Marching was also ridiculous but not
nearly as noisy. We learned how to all start together and
better still how to stop at the same time. We learned how to do
90 degree turns and 180 turns. You might think, "Well, of
course. Marching is what a person does in a band." But for
Alderson's very first band it was a case of every one of us
learning to march and every line of us learning to stick
together and every row having to remember where we were to
go--we were all beginners. No band ever has that many beginners
after a band is formed in a school.
Harold "Beans" Crawford was our first drum
major. He was not especially tall but he was very stalwart and
when he leaned way back with that tall, feathered log of a hat
on his head and lifted his booted legs in real high steps he was
commanding and inspiring. He used a shrill whistle to give us
commands and dropped a silver baton 30" long to bring us to a
halt and I can assure you we did HALT.
We wore white shirts and dark skirts and
pants, dark shoes (no saddles) and socks. We worked so hard so
that we could actually march on the field at half time of the
football game the first year so that people could see that we
were a band. We each had a Bennett's Band Book #1 in our music
holder and I think we could actually play 2 different marches.
We were so proud we nearly busted off buttons. People cheered
and that was how the money got raised for band uniforms,
tailored for each one of us.
I, personally, found it very embarrassing
when Mr. Core, the principal, called me in to his office where
the salesman was to take my measurements for MY uniform. I had
never before been measured by a man, a stranger at that. "My,"
he said," You certainly do have a big head. Let me measure that
again." I was mortified. Not too many school kids have
received a custom made band uniform to wear and it was so much
classier than the white shirt and dark skirt-- it was grand.
But I was still growing and in the second year I could barely
get the metal buttons on my jacket buttoned across my chest.
Mr. Hazeldine held some little try-outs
for about 4 girls, not in the band, whom he had selected. He
choose Elsie Jeanne Scruggs as the first Drum Majorette. She
was a little taller than most, had long legs that looked sharp
in the white, calf-high boots, and long brown hair that hung
almost to her waist. She, too, looked impressive in a white
wool circle skirt that hung just above, but on speaking terms
to, her knees, a tight fitted long sleeved jacket with
horizontal rows of braid marching from her high collar to her
waist. She had also inherited the tall, white, feathered,
stovepipe style Major's hat. The shrill whistle just didn't
seem to suit her--she seemed to blow it just a little late--so
she was switched to all hand signals using the silver baton. To
me she seemed less impressive that our first Major but she had
something else--Majorette appeal and LEGS!
I am smiling and really enjoying recalling my high school band
Mary M Steele Morgan, age 86, AHS '42
Memories - Part Two